The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released an Alert approximately 10 years ago, requesting help in preventing injuries and fatalities to workers, due to them falling through skylights or floor openings. They discovered that employers, workers, building owners, skylight designers and skylight manufacturers did not recognize the fall hazards associated with working near skylights. Because of that, skylights were frequently left uncovered or unguarded, and the increased likelihood of workers falling through skylights or floor openings increased. The Alert described five deaths that resulted from falls through skylights and floor openings – by both jobsite workers and non-jobsite workers – and they provided recommendations to help prevent similar deaths moving forward.
The Alert advised workers not to sit near or on skylights or roof openings. It also suggested that prior to leaving the work area, that workers guard or cover a skylight or opening to prevent falls. The Alert also proposed that workers ask their employers for the safety procedures of their job site, so that they would be familiar with all available safety information and could protect themselves and others. Additionally, the Alert advised that employees participated in all available health and safety training seminars.
For employers, the first item the Alert stated was to “develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive, written fall prevention program that, at a minimum, complies with applicable OSHA fall prevention.” It then goes on to say, “For work around skylights and roof and floor openings, require, provide and ensure the use of appropriate fall prevention systems that use one of the following:
- Covers or screens
- Railings or guardrails
- PFAS, including a full-body harness, lanyard, connectors and appropriate anchorage points (tie-offs).”
Although this alert was written over 10 years ago, many companies still do not provide fall prevention for their skylights and roof openings. Since this alert was written, workers and innocent bystanders have continued to fall through unprotected skylights. Why? Because employers are not safeguarding their jobsites as well as they should. If you have an unprotected skylight, you run the risk of injuries as well as fatalities. It is your responsibility to provide your workers with a safe working environment, to not only abide by OSHA safety standards, but to prevent the loss of lives.
The recommendations in the Alert apply to all building owners and all employers and workers at worksites that may get exposed to unguarded skylights and floor openings. Additionally, the Alert states that skylight designers and manufacturers should contribute to worker safety through improved design and labeling of skylights.
With over 50 years of experience in the industry, Plasteco creates the most durable and the safest skylight screens. FallGuard® Skylight Safety Screens are automatic protection for your skylights, and they protect your workers as well as unknowing innocent civilians. Since OSHA requires that all skylights have fall protection to prevent accidents, partner with Plasteco to allow your crew to work safely and securely. Our retrofit skylight screens are tailored to fit your fall prevention needs. To request more information, visit us at skylightscreens.com, or give us a call 713.673.7710.
Preventing Falls of Workers through Skylights and Roof and Floor Openings